We’ve officially known about Starfield since 2018, and got a proper trailer for it last year, but it wasn’t until very recently that we finally saw the game in action. Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi open world RPG closed out the show at the recent Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase with a meaty demonstration lasting more than a dozen minutes. Not only did we get to see quite a bit of gameplay footage, several new details on the title were also revealed. Here, we’re going to go over some of those details and highlight the key points that you should know about.
Story is always important in Bethesda games, even if it’s your own exploits and actions that make up the bulk of the adventure- so what’s the story in Starfield? The game is set quite far into the future, in the year 2330. Humans have expanded into the reaches of space and colonized it quite extensively. Early on in the game, you join Constellation, the last group of space travelers in the settled systems (which is what Starfield’s setting is known as), and your primary quest is to track down and gather mysterious artefacts. Why exactly you’re doing that and what the nature of these artefacts is isn’t something that Bethesda has divulged just yet. That said, you can expect to run into a wide and varied cast of characters, as is the case in all Bethesda RPGs, as well as a number of different factions with their own unique histories, motivations, and goals. From pirates and travelers to peacekeepers and more, who you align with and what actions you take will shape the fate of the story in various ways.
Bethesda has always been known for making absolutely massive RPGs, and that’s not going to change with Starfield, obviously- it’s a game about exploring space, after all. But how exactly is it going to be? You’ll be able to explore over a hundred systems, which encompasses over a thousand planets. That means you can head to any point on any one of those planets at any time and explore them freely. Of course, what we don’t know yet is just how much of this is going to be procedurally generated, because with those numbers, it’s safe to assume that Starfield is making use of procedural generation. In all likeliness, the uninhabited planets that you head to simply for collecting resources and nothing else will be procedurally generated, while the inhabited goldilocks planets that Todd Howard mentioned will be your discrete, handcrafted locations with their own characters, quests, and stories.
LOCATIONS AND VARIETY
Obviously, there’s only so much that Bethesda could show us of Starfield within a fifteen minute window, and a lot of it is going to be held back for the months to come (and, you know, for the game itself), but already, we’ve seen quite a bit of Starfield’s setting. The settled systems are a large place (or collection of places), and it also looks like they’ll be quite varied. We’ve seen a couple of early-game locations like Kreet, the barren moon of the planet Anselom, and we’ve seen New Atlantis, the capital city of the planet Jemison. Besides that, we’ve seen plenty of other locations that have shown quite a bit of environmental variety, from lush and overgrown planets with fantastic wildlife to neon-lit cyberpunk cities.
RPG mechanics and character creation are things that Bethesda has always prided itself on, and it looks like it’s taking that stuff to the next level in Starfield. The game allegedly has the deepest ever character creation toolset ever, giving you control over a wide range of cosmetic options, including your face, hair, eyes, gender, the way you walk, skin tone, body type, and much more. While creating your character, you’ll also be able to pick a background for yourself, with several options available, and each giving your character not only a unique backstory, but also three separate starting skills- so you can start out with a chef background, a diplomat background, a gangster background, a ronin background, or one of many others. You’ll also be able to give yourself optional traits, like having alien DNA, being an empath, being an introvert, and more, each coming with their own advantages and disadvantages. Clearly, Starfield is taking the role playing side of its experience to the next level.
PROGRESSION AND CRAFTING
Progression details shared for the game so far aren’t nearly as in-depth as details shared in some other areas, but we do have a basic understanding of how those systems will work. Leveling up will allow players to unlock different skills, following which you’ll be tasked with ranking up those specific skills by using them more and by completing specific challenges assigned to them. Meanwhile, you can also expect crafting and customization systems in place, which will tie resource collection. Speaking of which…
It looks like surveying your environments will be a key part of Starfield’s core gameplay loop. Based on what we’ve seen of it so far, it seems to be one of several areas where it’s taking some cues from No Man’s Sky. The more you survey and scan stuff, the higher a specific planet or biome’s survey completion percentage will supposedly go up, encompassing everything from resources unique to that location to flora and fauna.
Speaking of resources, that’s another area where Starfield is looking quite similar to No Man’s Sky. Collecting resources, based on what was briefly shown early on in the recent gameplay demo, will function similarly to the Hello Games title. Resources, meanwhile, will be crucial for progression as well. Beyond unlock and ranking up skills, you’ll also be using resources to complete research projects that will unlock unique boons, and also to unlock various different kinds of weapon mods.
Starfield will also allow you to build your own outposts. In fact, that seems to be an important part of the experience. Outposts will be your bases of operations and will be crucial not only for survival, but also for gathering more resources. How exactly will that work? Well, the actual building looks like what you’d expect, with players having the freedom to choose where and how to build them. Interestingly, characters that you meet while playing the game can also be assigned to outposts in order to keep them up and running. It looks like building outposts, assigning characters to their upkeep, and keeping up a steady stream of resources from them will be a crucial part of Starfield’s gameplay.
Of course, given the fact that this is a space-faring sci-fi title, it’s no surprise that spaceships are going to be an important part of the experience as well. In fact, you’re going to be able to build your own spaceship. That includes being able to decide what they look like, what different components to use, or even who the crew members on the spaceships are. There’s apparently going to be a ton of customization options available to offer players a great degree of control in this area. Which brings us to our next point…
SPACE FLIGHT AND COMBAT
Creating and customizing your own ships wouldn’t be half as exciting as it should be if you didn’t actually get to reap the benefits of that work, and Starfield seems well aware of that, because you’ll be able to fly your ships yourself. Manual space flight has been shown off, and that side of the experience will include space combat against other ships as well. How you have created and customized your ship will have an impact on its performance in both traversal and combat in various ways.
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